Curbside

John CrawfordWelcome to Curbside, a section devoted to showcasing the interests and expertise of our Creative Director, John Crawford. This section features fun and informative articles about growing your business away from the actual driving. This involves how to market your business, examples of companies who have successfully grown their business, and opinions from someone who has been involved in the creative side of the industry for over ten years.

This section will also feature profiles of companies who are solid marketers, social media musts, feedback from the readers, how to rebrand your company and more. Please take a read… I hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing it!

curbside-9-rules-website

9 Necessities For Your Limo Company’s Website

Not even twenty years ago, a company website was a bonus, if not a luxury. But not anymore. As the majority of you know, that has all changed in the past decade. It is simply a necessity to have a company website if you are going to succeed. Often times, the first introduction of your luxury ground transportation company is not a hand shake, but a couple page views on the Internet.

Simply put, owning a website is not only a must for a business, it also has to be of utmost importance. Like a vehicle, a website needs to be maintained in order to run smoothly. When was the last time you checked your company’s website? I suggest you do right now—and rethink what it is saying to your potential audience. I have compiled a list of rules for you to consider when revisiting your website.

Here are nine (9) necessary rules to follow for your company’s website:

1. Minimal Dead-End Pages. Nothing says “I don’t care” or “we don’t follow through” more than a web page that has been “under construction” for months, let alone years. If a blog web page has not been worked on in months or has never even been started, delete the page. You don’t want your web page to appear like a vacant building.

It may have sounded like a good idea to write a blog, but it’s a whole other level when you have to create and maintain the blog for it to be effective. If you visit a site’s blog and there has not been any new content for five years, what does that say about that page and/or company?

Streamline your site to avoid dead-end pages. Make your site as manageable as possible by eliminating web pages that just aren’t feasible for you to finish or maintain. Combine your “news” section with your “blog”  section. Just like clothes that have not been touched in a year, get rid
of web pages that no longer fit (in your work day).

2. Avoid Flash or Animation. Some techniques that were, at one point, exciting new terrain for the world wide web just aren’t efficient anymore. One of these techniques is the use of Flash or other animation. Since the world is slowly progressing to a more mobile view of the web, any unnecessary animation should be eliminated immediately. Like pop-up ads, many visitors will avoid animation at all cost, skipping by it to get to the content or ignoring it and leaving to go to a competitor’s site.

3. A Busy Design. Although the average person can appreciate art, they won’t stop and stare if they are surfing for a particular item such as a limousine or airport ride. The ground transportation industry is not the place to showcase a website of overly complicated designed web pages. Having a busy design can frustrate the end user, making them more likely to again go visit another website. Leave the cool designs for the coach builders; make your website easy on the eyes.

4. An Amateur or Outdated Design! Of course, on the other end of the spectrum we have the danger of having too vanilla/outdated a design. When a site is poorly designed and looks amateur, it can convey a bad impression to the viewer about how “advanced” the company is that created the website. Let’s face it, you can’t brag about your technology and have a novice website. Well, you can, I guess. It just doesn’t look very good to someone who is seeing your company for the first time. This is what business owners in the ground transportation industry forget sometimes: their website may be the first time a person actually even knows their company exists. And nothing turns them off more than a site that looks so plain that it could have been designed by the owner’s middle school daughter.

5. No Calls-To-Action. There are at least two (2) approaches to designing a website that happen before a single design comp has been sent to the company from the designer. First, your company’s website can act as a brochure—acting as an informative tool that tells the end user who you are, what you do,when you do it, where you do it and why you do it. Secondly, your website can act as a sales presentation—showcasing the reasons why the end user should bypass all other available luxury ground transportation companies and use your company. Either way, your website should have at least one “call-to-action” on your website. A call-to-action is a marketing technique that persuades the end user to act immediately, using language such as “Call now to find out more” or “Click here to save on your next ride.” Another type of call-to-action is what the people in the marketing industry call a “white paper.” Sometimes companies offer “white papers” as a down loadable .pdf on their websites, usually set up on a separate page (so they can count the visitors). What the company does (usually) is send out an e-blast with some information that the company deems is worthwhile to a select group of subscribers with some type of call-to-action intertwined in the message. Companies that use this type of strategy effectively in this industry are Inbound Marketing Agents and ETS International. Although both strategies are used, my advice would be to use the latter choice as your model—creating a sales presentation for your company using calls-to-action.

6. Hard To Find Contact Info. There is nothing more frustrating to the end user than to not be able to locate a phone number or email when they are ready to make a purchase decision. If it becomes too difficult, it just may be the difference between a sale and a potential customer that bit the dust. It may sound obvious, but make your contact info visible on every page and big enough to not overlook. I have seen (or, in this case, not seen) contact info nearly impossible to find. Make it stand out.

7. No Mobile Site. So you have this awesome desktop version of your site but have yet to convert it over to a mobile-version? Act sooner rather than later. If your site appears as a desktop version on a person’s phone, the enormity of the website can lead to discouraged viewers who are trying to zoom in to see the buttons, etc. Get a mobile version of your site. It makes all the difference in the world, especially of some of your business relies on online reservations.

8. Fresh Content. Update your website weekly, if not daily. Keep the information relative and current. Talk about the change of seasons. Highlight the upcoming months and keep your specials up-to-date.

9. Easy-to-Navigate. Make your website make sense. Think about how you want the navigation to go before you start designing it. Think of everything you can before you commit to a site map. The last thing you want to do is confuse the viewer. Make your buttons a seamless integration of information presented in a logical manner so that the end user can find what they want quickly and easily.

If you follow the nine (9) steps above, your online presence and experience will be much better—resulting in more sales conversions and a better experience overall for both your company and the potential customers online. With social media, your hashtag is your brand, so use it wisely. /LD

Top 10 Limo Scenes in Modern Cinema

When you think of a limousine in the real world, you can associate many great memories.
When it comes to cinema, it’s no different. The limousine has a long history of being one of the best environments for entertainment. In fact, the limousine has been part of the cinematic world since the silent movies and Our Gang shorts, where the original Our Gang created their own fantasy limousine back in 1929. In recent history, the limousine is still the symbol of success.

Hollywood has capitalized on the luxurious and open backdrop of a limousine for some of the most entertaining scenes in films. Here are ten of my favorite limo appearances in film since 1980 and why, starting with #10:

10. The Secret of My Success: The relationship between a chauffeur and the chauffeured is a very special relationship in real life and one that is certainly explored (and usually exaggerated) in the world of cinema. Although the two are roughly yards apart, what looks like proximity can feel like countries apart. However, that implied tension is exploited sometimes in the fantasy world of film, and no one scene illustrates this more than the limousine scene in “The Secret To My Success”, in which Michael J. Fox plays a college intern and driver for the boss’ wife.

09. Trading Places: As part of a betting “experiment”, two rich attorney brothers take two people from opposite ends of the economic spectrum, Eddie Murphy’s character Billy Ray Valentine is given a limousine and chauffeur. Chaos ensues in this hilarious Akroyd/Murphy classic.

08. Dumb and Dumber: Lloyd Christmas is dumb but certainly funny in the opening scene to this cult classic, where he meets Mary Swanson while chauffeuring his new crush to the airport and stumbles through this hilarious dialogue:

07. Big Fat Liar. “Yeah, it must be really, really tough to be 11!” Paul Giamatti nails it once again, this time in a comedic role!

06. Driving Miss Daisy: Morgan Freeman nails his role as Daisy’s chauffeur in this “period piece” about relationships of all kinds.

05. Pretty Woman: Julie Robert’s breakout movie features a dramatic goodbye limo ride that tugs at your heartstrings long enough to make you realize that this comedy had some legs and would still be watched 25 or more years later.

04. Camp Rock. This scene is one of the best in this Disney Channel classic.

03. Arthur. “How rich am I? I wish I had a dime for every dime I have… hahahahahahahaha!” Dudley Moore is at his best in this 1981 comedy classic.

02. Escape: The ancient Mayan calendar predicted that Dec. 21, 2012 would be the “End of Days”… well, John Cusack is in a rush to change all that. His choice of vehicle? A limo. Not a bad way to go out.

01. Wall Street: I love this movie and this scene is no exception. The dialogue is fantastic as Gordon Gekko discusses his goals with Bud Fox. Absolutely one of the best scenes in the movie.

There you have it… my list of the top 10 limo scenes in cinema since 1980. So what are some I might have missed? What are your favorite scenes featuring limousines in the movies? I left out a few steamy scenes simply because they are too cliche and there are too many. But I would love to hear your as well! Leave in the comments section below.

Limo Digest 2.0: Minimal… Modern… Motion.

LD-Logo-Digital-1When it comes to branding your own company, it has to come naturally. Nothing about the process can be forced. So when I took  over as Creative Director of  Limo Digest, I thought it would serve us best not to rush into a complete overhaul, but rather wait until the new personality of the brand evolved organically, stemming from the fresh vision of our new staff. Put simply, we needed a reboot.

The first order of business was the name. Although Limousine Digest had been the official name of the magazine for the better part of the past quarter century, it gradually came to be known as Limo Digest to our readers. The title change made all the sense in the world. It rolls off the tongue more easily; the term “limo” can be used to describe all luxury ground transportation, and fits nicely as the boilerplate on the magazine covers—it just looks like it belongs there.

Once the decision was made to change the name of the magazine, the logo needed to be updated. The result is a bolder, more easily recognizable alteration of the original with a modern look that winks at the history of the brand but marks a definitive step toward the future.

Now that we had a logo, we needed to settle on a new look for a more up-to-date, mobile- friendly website, incorporating our new brand colors and reenergized mission.

Limo Digest is now formatted to include a wealth of interesting stories, relevant articles and breaking luxury ground transportation news. The revamped website will be the engine that drives our brand—a brand dedicated to keeping our subscribers informed about all issues relating to survival in this incredibly competitive marketplace. Through our new website, you can learn from the experts and stay updated on news events as they happen every day.

Not only did we reinvent the look, feel and functionality of our brand, but have also been retooling our monthly magazine to match. We hope that, with each issue, you will start to see a new attitude emerge—a renewed dedication to delivering better content in a more stylish and readable format.
We want to interact with the quiet majority of our readers, and encourage you to reach out and let us know what you think of the changes.

Facebook us, Tweet us, contact us on LinkedIn and leave a comment. You can even contact me directly at john@limodigest.com and let me know personally what you think. Thanks and I look forward to your feedback! //LD

Top-10-Logos

Top 10 Logos in the Luxury Ground Transportation Industry

Having been involved in design and advertising for over 15 years, I know a good logo when I see one.

A good logo shows that a company cares about the way they present themselves to the public. In my daily duties as the Creative Director of Limo Digest, I have become familiar with hundreds of luxury ground transportation companies’ logos. Here are my top 10 favorites.

10. LSW Chauffeured TransportationLSW introduced a new logo a little over a year ago and they hit a home run with the typography and logo choice. The best way to describe this logo is: BIG but unobtrusive. Quietly confident. And that’s a good thing in the luxury ground transportation industry.

9. Allstar International
There’s just something about this logo that sticks out to me, and I really can’t articulate it. Maybe it has to do with how it all fits together so well. Nothing seems forced.

8.  Montreal Limousine
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of visiting Montreal will understand how well this logo articulates the look and feel of this Canadian city. The understated motion and abbreviated “MTL” combined with the skyline of the city, as well as the blue and gray color scheme, come together into an icon that embodies trustworthiness and ease of travel.

7. Kings Worldwide Transportation
The Kings Worldwide Transportation logo exemplifies history and class, which resonates perfectly with the name and industry. When it comes to demonstrating power, choosing red as your primary color is a touchdown in the logo department. This logo works for me because it parallels the company’s personality and vision.

6. Angel Limousine
Not only is it the choice of colors, but also the choice of fonts that conveys a sense of comfort and reliability. This is an example of an icon above the name standing alone with great effectiveness. The wings are symmetrical and the subtle yet implied globe is a nice detail.

5. CLI Worldwide Transportation
Here is a logo that just looks dependable. It just demands respect without coming off as pretentious. The use of both serif and sans serif fonts makes the logo look elegant and steady. To be honest, this is a logo that I wanted to dislike because it follows a formula. But it’s just too good at following that formula to ignore. Sometimes doing what is expected isn’t the wrong choice. You just have to be good enough at it to get noticed. CLI’s logo does just that.

4. Overland Chauffeured Services
Overtly simple yet stylish, the logo reads clearly and stands out in a crowd – just by being itself. And isn’t that what we all want in life? The big “O” defines classic and historic, but gives the viewer just enough motion to hint at progressive. I also love the subtle open “A” in “Overland” and how it mirrors the “V.” It’s a seamless combination of motion and stability. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

3. Logic Limo
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Logic Limo.  Simply put, it stands out not only in its composition but in its choice of fonts and colors. You can’t stop staring at it and its originality makes the brand stay in your head long after you’ve turned away. Way to break the rules, guys. Sometimes that works, too.

2. Grand Avenue
Not only is this a personal favorite, but an overwhelming favorite of everyone in the Limo Digest staff. The typography and effective yet simple color scheme of greens and grays balance out the progressive feel of the top half of the logo. The best feature is that the icon above the name of the company can stand alone with equal brand  identity. One of the other elements that I love about the logo is its inclusion of the company tag line: Be Driven. The whole formula adds up to a winning combination that exemplifies strength  and consistency of service with an eye on the future of luxury ground transportation.

1. Zetian Limousine
Not only did I love the logo, but again this was one everyone picked as a favorite. The reason: it looks luxurious without trying to be luxurious. Maybe it’s the silver and black combined with a rich purple backdrop. Sometimes great art cannot be defined… it simply has to be experienced. This is the case with the winning logo. It just came out on top.

There you have it. The ten best logos in the industry. A perfectly executed logo in the ground transportation industry can give your company a huge head start. Make the most of this important branding decision to make sure your company’s core values are communicated effectively. //LD

E-Mail-Marketing

Most Common Mistakes Made in Email Marketing

 

One of the benefits of having over 19,000 subscribers is that many of our advertisers have the opportunity to promote their companies via our email marketing campaign. When done effectively, an email can reach an audience instantly—reaching people on their smartphones, tablets and computers. More often than not, however, email marketing is a vehicle that many businesses start driving before having bothered to read the owner’s manual.

Having designed and distributed hundreds of email advertisements and newsletters, I have become very well-versed on what works in email marketing, and what doesn’t. Here are eight of the most common mistakes made in email marketing.

1. A Spammy, Indirect, or Long Subject Line. Your potential customers receive hundreds of emails a week, so don’t assume that just because your recipient gets your email they are necessarily going to read it. The first way to prevent getting your email lost en route to your list is by creating a subject line that is both direct, and junk-folder-proof. As imaginative as we want to be in marketing, creating a catchy headline that may work in an ad may be counter-productive when it comes to email marketing. In other words, make your subject line as simple and direct as possible. Avoid vague subject lines like “Don’t Miss This Amazing Opportunity.” Also, avoid the temptation of being overzealous in your subject line, such as, “Save! Save! Save!!!” This type of subject line guarantees a one-way ticket to your recipient’s junk folder.

Instead, use subject lines that “tease” a specific special offer that is direct and to the point. Without getting into the spammy words, make the subject line connect to the body of the email. A sample of this type of subject line would be, “Now Offering Discount Rides to Boston.”

Even better: “Your VIP Invite: Nab the Best Rates First.” This type of subject line clearly articulates the reason for the email and gives the reader an idea of what they will be reading about in the body, as well as a sense of urgency. Don’t be misleading in your subject line, either, giving the recipient a reason to unsubscribe to any future emails from your company (we will discuss the ethics of “opting in and out” later in this article). People respond to people they trust—so don’t be too “salesy.”

Because many of the end users will be viewing your email on their smartphones, keep your subject line short (roughly 5 words or less, if possible). Make use of the “subheader” in the email preview—the subheader is the text that appears in the email preview when you receive an email.

Use wording associated with the subject line that is a direct “call-to-action.” Also, don’t assume your audience knows who you are. Remind them what your company does in your subject line by making it direct. A reader always wants to know: “What’s in it for me?”

2. Unequal Image to Text Ratio. Images work in email marketing because people like images more than they like reading. However, the most effective email messages utilize the age-old adage that “less is more”—in this case, the less images, the better. Filling up your content with multiple images or one big image is bad for a couple of reasons. Firstly, time is precious, and making the recipient wait for images to “preview” in their email browser is  a recipe for tuning out your potential audience. If it takes too long to see what your email is about, the reader will bounce before it loads completely. Also, many email providers don’t load images automatically. Giving the reader another button to click for them to read your email ensures that less people will go that extra step to read your email.

The best email marketing has more than 50% text to image ratio, ensuring that the reader will get to read a preview of your email message before they have to download the images. Too many times, companies send me a full-page print ad and want it sent out as an email “blast.” Huge images are not web friendly. Having the entire email body be one big, sliced up image is a sure-fire way for viewers to hit delete before even attempting to engage in your presentation.

Make sure your email is written so that it clearly articulates the reason for the viewer to investigate the new email in their inbox. Remember, you need to have actual content. Don’t fill it up with “adsy” pitches. Have some substance. Less is more as long as it is not less than 50% of your body email. Opt for text headers over graphic headers—this way, you’re sure that the recipient gets the message right out of the gate.

3. No “Call-To-Action.” Sending out an email with no “call-to-action” is another common mistake made in email marketing. A “call-to-action” in marketing terms means that by promoting your business, you are attracting customers that need to take one simple action to visit your site and view your products and services (in this case, one simple click). If your email body is full of multiple links, it can not only confuse the reader but also make your message less trustworthy. A simple “Click here to save on …..” needs to guide the reader to a good landing page that references the email in some way. Sending the reader to your home page does no good, unless you mention the offer in the body of the website on that particular page.

Sending out a print ad doesn’t make a great email. Think about a normal print ad—sometimes there is a call-to-action, but often it is just a friendly reminder of your business and what you do. A person will keep a magazine and refer back to it much more often than they will a saved email.
In fact, repeat the same “call-to-action” multiple times throughout the email if you have to. Whatever you do, make the “call-to-action” stand out from the other verbiage. Using “Limited Time Offer” is another way to attract traffic right away. This compels readers to act before it’s too late.

Make sure to make your “call-to-action” buttons larger and easy to find. Since many of the readers will be using their thumbs, make it easy for them to navigate.

4. Make Sure There is a Browser Version. Another mistake businesses make is not “hosting” the email somewhere remotely. When a client sends me an email promotion to send, I make sure to create one myself. Email marketing services usually provide a remote version that the reader can view in their browser. It’s important to know that you need to have a browser version when you are sending out an email.

5. Set Up a Professional Email Reply-To Address. I can’t count the number of times I have received reply emails that have nothing to do with the company they represent. If you work for XYZ Limousine, for example, and your email address is “limo@yahoo.com,” what does that indicate to the recipient? Number one: it hints you could be a small company. Number two: you are in the dark ages when it comes to being cutting edge. As low as $10 per year, setting up a professional email address with your web hosting is beneficial in email marketing campaigns. Even if you know nothing about technology, you should know enough to get a professional email address.

6. Learning From Your Analytics. Doing an email marketing campaign and not checking your analytics is the equivalent to mailing out postcards to thousands of addresses in different states and not tracking their success. Analytics, for those of you who don’t know the definition, is provided by your email marketing service (such as Constant Contact, MailChimp and Critical Impact) where you can view the data of the recipients and the patterns of behavior of both an individual recipient and the group as a whole that you emailed. By tracking the meaningful patterns of behavior, you can better target who is receiving the email, who is opening the email and how they are interacting with the content you are sending them. For example, if the majority of your recipients are clicking through to the landing page that you have set up but leaving the page without going further, you may want to tweak the landing page. Clearly, you have driven them to the page but you didn’t close the deal. Or maybe no one is clicking at all. In that case, you may have to recreate your email blast or reconsider your “call-to-action.” Test with different subject lines. Believe it or not, some work much better than others.

7. No Social Media Links. So your company has taken the time to set up a Facebook and Twitter account and yet you don’t use your email marketing campaign to promote either one? Not a great idea. Use your email marketing campaign as an invitation to get your audience to engage in future social conversations. By providing a way to “share” your special, you are widening your audience if the reader feels others that they are friends with might be interested in seeing it.

8. Ethics of Opting In/Opting Out. Remember, it is a privilege that you have an abundance of email addresses to promote your company. You should treat it that way. Don’t turn off your audience by sending out too many emails in too short of a time. Also, your subscribers should have had, at one point, “opted in” to your e-newsletter. In layman’s terms, that means that the reader has voluntarily given your company their email address because they want to receive future emails from your business. Don’t abuse that list. Give that list interesting emails that they will want to receive from you in a timely fashion.

By following the above list, you can maximize your efforts and get a really good return on your investment. Email marketing, when executed properly, is a fantastic tool to use to reach your audience. But it should not be done without some careful thought and preparation. Don’t make the common mistakes others do, and you will be one step ahead of your competition! //LD

Curbside-Social-Media

You Can’t Afford to Be Anti-Social (Media)

There is much to gain from being active in social media… but first you have to learn how to play the game.

Remember the good old days when social media was primarily useful for contacting your old high school buddies and stalking your ex-girlfriends? An innocent yet entertaining tool, social media was a platform for anyone who owned a computer to instantly connect with old acquaintances, friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. With the advent of Friendster in 2002, the avenues of social media have evolved from the Wild West of MySpace to the more secure, confined neighborhood community of Facebook. Considering how quickly the popularity of Facebook came of age, it’s now hard to imagine a world without social media.

Since social media is now such a fundamental part of everyone’s daily activity, it no longer matters if you like it or if you believe it is a sign of the end times—your business has to incorporate an online social media presence. Before you do, however, you need to figure out why you are doing it, and what you want to accomplish. Also, you need to know how social media has changed recently, and how to adapt your strategy to those changes.

Just in case anyone who’s been living under a rock is reading this (that includes you, Mom), social media is, in layman’s terms, the interaction among virtual communities in which the participants exchange views, ideas and personal property such as photos, videos and links.

A Brave New World
After Facebook’s trailblazing success came countless others, like Instagram, Linkedin, SnapChat and Google+ to expand the playing field. Twitter currently ranks as Facebook’s most formidable opponent, where everyone from celebrities to brands can reach their audience immediately and without restriction (except for the 140 character limit, of course). Believe it or not, Facebook at one point was by invitation-only and advertisement-free. But soon you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is not on social media, so advertisers and marketers were chomping at the bit to figure out a way to capitalize on a voluntary audience of millions every day.

Facebook struggled at first to figure out a way to advertise without compromising the integrity of the experience. After all, there was a reason “pop-up” ads were popular at one time—they were effective. Now most, if not all, computers come equipped with “pop-up” blockers.

Eventually, Facebook offered companies and individuals two ways to advertise: one by paying, and one by being slightly clever. Facebook offered a “pay-per-click” campaign where you set a daily budget (let’s say, for example, $100) and when you hit that amount, it stopped featuring your ads in the right side panel. Facebook used an expensive algorithm that curated targeted ads specifically designed for you.

The second and more creative way to advertise on Facebook was (and still is, with a few notable changes I will touch on later) to share engaging content geared towards generating interaction between your brand and your audience. By perusing the various news outlets and industry-related travel and ground transportation blogs, your company should act as its own news feed and offer interesting articles to your viewers. To sprinkle in your own articles from the blog section of your website would be ideal as well, so you’re still driving your own traffic while building brand value and a quality social media presence at the same time. The various social media platforms offer the ability to simultaneously post the same article, hitting other streams such as Twitter and Google+ at the same time.

By offering the second option, the majority of smaller companies were able to skirt allocating funds for their Facebook advertising. By showing up in their followers’ news feeds, companies could hit an untapped population and reinforce their brand. It was an advertising no-brainer. But don’t get too excited. With the climax of Facebook’s popularity, some changes were made in the news feed algorithm just a few months back. This change has had a huge impact on the amount of people that see your posts.

Facebook Pulls a “Bait and Switch”
Last December, Facebook once again tweaked its algorithms, claiming that they wanted to get rid of trendy memes and offer the viewer more “high-quality” content in the news feed. It was spun that the change was made to improve the Facebook experience by eliminating “low-quality” content from your news feed. The formula behind whether content is determined to be either high or low quality is the real source of controversy surrounding these changes.

But it was also about reducing the visibility of free ads on Facebook. Now, if a brand wants more exposure on Facebook, it’s going to have to pay for it. Facebook has coined them “Sponsored Posts,” but make no mistake: they are paid advertisements. Essentially, now you have to pay for what you used to get for free—a classic “bait and switch.”

Competition is fierce in the realm of social media, and now you must pay to play. Only loyal fans will take the extra time to frequent your Facebook business page. Most of your posts will end up in the “Pages Feed”—a button on the left hiding in plain sight and only checked by loyalists.

Is a Sponsored Post A Good Option?
It may be in your company’s best interest to consider using Facebook’s Sponsored Post. As it stands today, only roughly 15 percent of your audience will see any given Facebook post. According to an article from Lauren Drell’s Mashable blog, a Facebook fan or follower is worth $174. However, there are a few things to consider before you make this type of financial commitment. Only businesses with over 400 “likes” qualify for a Sponsored Post. If your audience is smaller than that, you will  have to wait until your audience grows. To grow your audience on Facebook, start by offering additional savings and promotions for “liking” your company on Facebook. Put it on your business cards or promotional ads or postcards, as examples. Give people an incentive to make the effort to find and “like” your company. Keep in mind that you will have to offer other promotions down the road to keep your audience engaged.

Other Options
Many small limo companies have turned their attention to Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ to promote their businesses. The advantages of these aforementioned platforms are obvious but worth stating. Linkedin and Google+ are more streamlined and professional. Twitter is immediate. And all of them are free (for now). Linkedin recently changed its appearance by making the news feed comparable to Facebook. The benefit of using Google+ (Google’s answer to Facebook) is that by posting valuable content in your news feed, it helps with your search ranking on Google, the biggest search engine in the world. Obviously, there are still other search engines like Yahoo or Bing where all are treated equally, but Google is the heavyweight when it comes to traffic and related searches.

A great by-product of any type of social media campaign is boosting your ranking in search results no matter what search engine is used. So your hard work is not for nothing; any presence is valuable when it comes to being in the social media game. If you think that what you are promoting will bring a good ROI by purchasing a Sponsored Post, allocate a small budget per day and test the results. There really is no simple formula. It involves checking your results daily and making alterations to your budget to make the campaign cost-effective.

Because we are only in the first generation of social media in terms of marketing, there simply isn’t enough data to know for sure what works and what doesn’t work across the board. A good analogy would be the birth of television in the 1950s, and how commercials evolved over the decades to appeal to the emotions of audiences. Brands like Coca-Cola or Lay’s Potato Chips are, inherently, an interactive brand. They can post questions to their consumers via Facebook and get immediate feedback because the end user has an investment in that particular product.

Ground transportation companies? Not so much. It’s even more challenging for a limousine operator to get great results because there is not that immediate emotional connection built in to the feedback. The posts have to resonate within your brand, so asking, “Hey, what’s everyone doing for the weekend?” as a limo operator just won’t normally yield great results.

The Strategy
Make your posts count and be on point to your brand. What is your company known for? Is it great service or is it affordability? Are you branded as a local company that knows its particular city or are you an expansive, worldwide transportation service? Whatever it is, stick to your message. Post relevant content related to your specific brand.

Lastly, do not use your company account to post your own personal opinions. There is nothing wrong with making the brand about the established, connected founder of the company. But don’t use your company profile to post irrelevant or controversial content. Even if 15 people agree with you and “like” your post, there may be hundreds you just alienated from future business.

As you can see, navigating through social media is not an easy exercise. With the right approach, however, a social media presence can not only generate business, but make your brand recognizable to the unfamiliar and garner great leads on down the road. But be patient… it takes practice. //LD

Curbside-Business

The 6 C’s of Small Business Marketing

Get your week off to a great start by challenging yourself to jumpstart your in-house marketing campaign.

It’s the start of another week and you’re back at the office wishing things were different. All of us are conditioned to want to make changes, but are hesitant to actually make them. Simply put, it’s hard to change. Well, when it comes to increasing business, it’s even more difficult. But there are some things you can implement that can increase your current business and get your week off to a good start. For reading simplicity, I am going to call them the 6 C’s of Small Business Marketing.

1. Create an Elevator Pitch. Studies have shown that the average person’s attention span is roughly ten seconds (which means you may have already tuned me out!). No matter where you are, you need to be promoting your business… and promoting quickly. Think about what your company is and what differentiates your company from your competition. This requires some real thinking because your pitch can’t be an empty promise. If you are about price, then say you offer the lowest rates in the area. If you are about a luxurious ride, accentuate what that means concisely.

2. Cross-Promotion. Speaking of promotion, no matter where you are located, there are other businesses looking to increase their own bottom lines. One of the best ways to increase your business is to hook up with other businesses that make sense. For a ground transportation company, it’s hotels, corporations, airports and prom/wedding boutiques. Is there a hotel near you that gets a lot of traffic? Is there a local boutique that handles all of the bigger weddings and events in the area? Ask to partner with them. Reach out and ask about running a promotion together that benefits both parties. It can’t hurt to ask.

3. Communicate. Get yourself involved. Whether it be a national or local association, it is time to create a presence for your company. Being in the industry for many years myself, I can assure you that nothing is more important in the ground transportation industry than networking. The big players in this industry put a huge premium on the friendships they have cultivated over the years. If you, like myself, are not comfortable stepping into a group that is unfamiliar, start  with a local group. Try attending meetings that are close in proximity, like your community or a local business organization of some sort. You’ll be amazed how many more business opportunities come from a firm handshake and a genuine hello.

4. Content. On the opposite end of the spectrum is your online presence. Another way to increase your business is by amping up your visibility on the internet. Creating valuable content on your website, whether it be in a blog format or via social media, is a great way to gain the trust of the consumer and open avenues that otherwise would never manifest. Write about what you know and keep in mind that other business owners and potential customers are looking for ways to either save money or make money with your expertise. Run special online offers and track your results. Update your blog frequently with current information and promote your blog via social media. This may take more time than my other suggestions, but it is a necessary and fundamental extension of your company brand.

5. Coupons. When it comes to making any purchase, people need a push. Offering online coupons at the end of a blog entry or in the local newspaper is an excellent way to gain new business. Postcards are an inexpensive way to get your company exposure. Obviously, this is not going to land you a huge corporate client. However, it could help to get some of your less popular vehicles out on the road. Also, once a person tries your company out and likes what they see, it is more likely that this person will suggest it to someone else in the company. This could eventually lead to a bigger sale.

6. Customer Referrals. One of the most difficult exchanges in the art of communication is asking a question. It can also be one of the most rewarding. Create a survey and follow up with customers to get their feedback. Create a plan where customers get referral rewards. See where you can improve and tweak your ground transportation experience. Reach out to other companies in other cities and offer your services and vice verse. Our Referral Guide works because it benefits both sides.

Hopefully your attention span got you this far and you now have some ideas on making this week at work a productive and promising one. Try these six C’s and see how changing your habits can lead to more business by making a few subtle changes. //LD

LIMO LAUGHS

Limo-Cartoon-1

“When they said you needed a limo for your BIG DAY, I didn’t realize you meant getting away from your kids for 24 hours!

Feature Past Articles

7 Ways to Survive in the Modern Marketing World
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